The Congressional Black Caucus has called the government's efforts to reach African American youth with anti-drug messages "not acceptable" and accused the Office of National Drug Control Policy of inaccurately describing its efforts to target that demographic.
"We won't stand for it given the total amount of money they have to spend," said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Minn., last week.
Kilpatrick and James Clyburn, D-S.C., blasted the ONDCP in a letter dated May 6, the latest in a series of voices critical of the task force's efforts regarding minorities.
The authors listed several "outstanding concerns," including agency selection and management, and the "current media plan, which we believe relies too heavily on the use of general market messages principally delivered through mainstream media." The ONDCP spends $3.2 million of its $165 million budget on minority media. Ogilvy & Mather in New York is the lead shop on the business.
The CBC wants to see more money spent on black-owned media, more anti-drug messages delivered via ethnic-targeted media, and minority-owned agencies playing a more "primary role" in targeting blacks.
Kilpatrick's concern is that while ONDCP might be able to frequently reach black youths through mainstream TV, she said it is also necessary to use media they trust in order to change their behavior.
Drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey claimed in an April 21 letter to the CBC that the campaign is one of the top 10 advertisers on Black Entertainment Television. "African Americans now receive the highest exposure rate to anti-drug messages of any audience," McCaffrey stated. "With paid and match messages, 95 percent of African American teens see an average of eight messages a week."
BET officials "were appalled at your statement," the CBC's sharply worded response said. "They stated, 'ONDCP is not only not in our top 10, they did not even make the top 25.'"